Prince Amir Al Saud

Is Shadow IT a threat to Information Technology?

Is Shadow IT a threat to Information Technology?


What is Shadow IT? This refers to information technology projects which are managed externally and without the knowledge of the company’s IT department. In the past, this was limited to illegitimate Excel macro spreadsheets or software apps bought by employees from shops that sold office supplies.


Since then, Shadow IT grew rapidly due to quality of consumer apps in the cloud like social media networks, collaboration tools and file sharing. Another reason is the deployment of enterprise-level applications called Software as a Model distribution platform (SAAS).  In fact, expenditure outside IT departments reportedly reached roughly 40 percent. Nonetheless, Shadow IT has helped enterprises become more competitive and profitable.


SAAS can reduce loads on information technology help desks. IT is not accountable anymore for management of the apps or physical infrastructure. However, the department needs to ensure security as well as compliance for corporate data personnel uploading to cloud services. This places IT in an awkward position of preventing employees from using cloud applications they use in performing their jobs.


Technology is to Blame


At present, IT departments have to contend with shadow IT factions that spring up generally without warning yet strangely autonomous, properly funded and supported. What problems does Shadow IT cause? It jeopardizes company data. The problem is these are very popular among members of the workforce.


The most widespread technologies through rogue IT are consumer- categorized applications like FACEBOOK or Google Apps. These bring slack security methods that can endanger overall information security programs. Worse, these risk the creation of silos between different work divisions because collaboration systems are frequently mismatched and are not capable of connecting with each other.


However, shadow IT groups have a practical purpose which is to reduce the time between making an IT request and getting the right response. One example is data extraction or getting limited reports. The downside is they also belittle good governance, decrease operational efficiencies, create unnecessary expenditures, and intensify exposure to hazards.


Prevention of Shadow IT

Business organizations must find means for IT systems to become flexible and easy to use to stop Shadow IT or at the least prevent this from becoming a full-blown predicament.

What big corporations can do is to control employees in intervening with technology made accessible to them. These companies should also avoid using silos that obstruct official communications systems.


Enterprises need to focus on social functions when it comes to review of IT platforms. Innovations must be applied to build user interfaces comparable to the preferred websites of employees which can produce new methods of communicating across different work units. Eliminate barriers between departments to impact performance of individual personnel and the whole organization as well positively. 


Avant-garde business proprietors and managers investing in enhanced mobile systems and business-to worker implements in the company make tasks faster, easier and rewarding. In addition, these can prevent employees from choosing their own apps and devices.

It is also possible for management to introduce certain programs to liven up boring and difficult assignments. This high-tech process is called “GAMIFICATION”. It has been proven effective so far in motivating employees to support organizational targets and metrics. With this strategy, there are fewer chances that employees will resort to Shadow IT in the working environment.


Although there are operational problems generated by the specter of Shadow IT, there can also be certain upsides. Therefore, it may be worthwhile for IT managers to review employee engagement with said technology tools before issuing an outright ban.  It will be better to evaluate all these programs and tools thoroughly before determining if these should be prohibited or taken on board in the corporate realm.


As a matter of fact, Shadow IT can possibly open the company to fresh innovations that will benefit the whole organization. There are risks to mull about. The first major concern is compliance of Software Asset Management. This is a key challenge if IT has appropriate procedures to manage acquisition of software licenses. If licenses are obtained outside of these parameters and not sanctioned by the IT Division, Software Asset Management is not viable so the company becomes prone to unwarranted risks.


Corporations put a lot of investments on standards as well as governance. They are very strict with compliance required by the industry and government agencies. ISOs are meant to show clients that they mean business and adhere to excellent quality at all times. The discovery of unauthorized software applications means that someone is using a program to improve productivity. The main point is IT has not given its approval to this platform due to security challenges. Worse, there may not even be known to corporate IT staff.


In other words, Shadow IT may be here to stay. It is now up to the Information Technology personnel to deal with the matter for the good of the organization.

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